A country with almost no roads – Greenland by Travel Journalist Wolf Leichsenring
It sounds cold, it smells cold, it’s cold. More than 80% of the country is covered by ice. Only on the coast, especially in the south and west, the real name “Green Land” comes into its own.
What does this have to do with the headline? Certainly, there is a road network in town. But every road inevitably ends at the outskirts. In Greenland there are no roads from one place to another. Each populated patch forms a civilization island. They can only be reached by air, mostly by ship, in winter by dog sled.
For me, the motorhome, this means a major change, but an exciting one. My flight from Iceland ends in the 130 soul place of Narsarsuaq. The pilots of Air Iceland Connect must already bring a lot of skill, so as not to roll out unexpectedly in the Eisfjord Tunai, as the runway ends abruptly just before the icebergs on the water.
For the transfer to the village of Narsaq, the actual destination, only the water taxi for a total of 5 passengers including luggage remains on board. At 4 ° C, it is cold, but it remains dry, because the ride is at least for the passengers outdoors. The speedboat races around the icebergs. I felt like a skill race on a traffic training ground, in deep trust in the captain’s steering skills.
The first part of the Greenland tour then begins in Narsaq – with the mail boat 1,000 km to the north to the town of Ilulissat, directly on the border with the inland ice. The coastal drive lasts just under 5 days. But not always, the ferry can start the ports of isolated settlements. Then it’s called outboarding and boarding. From 30 minutes stay, the ship may also be abandoned. Enigmatic, how to live here permanently. Now in midsummer, it still seems reasonably inviting, but during the rest of the seasons?
For Greenlanders such a “cruise” as driving for us. Thus, more than 90% of passengers are locals. A good opportunity to learn more about Greenlandic living conditions. At the same time, I hear again and again that you have to be born here to be able to bear the living conditions.
It is not for nothing that the suicide rate is quite high, especially among young people. “You do not know what to do with yourself,” a mid-fiftieth told me.
After five days and 300km north of the Arctic Circle, the ship finally enters the port of destination Ilulissat.
Since 2007, since the world climate conference in this 4,500-inhabitant city, this is called “sustainability”. After all, tourism has developed sustainably to become a hotspot for the travel industry.
What makes the place so appealing? His landscape that surrounds him. First, the Eisfjord Kangia, natural phenomenon and UNESCO World Heritage site. 40km pack ice, from the calving glacier SermeqKujalleq to the mouth in the North Atlantic Disko bay with “iceberg congestion”. The glacier calves directly into the fjord with icebergs of up to 800m height. About 500m – 600m swim underwater. Since the fjord at its mouth but only has a depth of 200m, there forms the congestion. Especially under the midnight sun, they spread a mystical spectacle.
If you walk directly on the fjord, you can not only see but also hear iceberg activities. Here a colorful sonority orchestrates. Sometimes it sounds like dull thunder rumble or distant gun noise. A pitch higher crunches and squeaks like metal on metal. The whistle of a steam locomotive or the hissing of a valve, when air escapes, is as much part of the acoustic repertoire as the impact sound of an object on a wall. The tonal alternations are really no limits. When flying directly over this huge glacier edge, the deep cracks in the ice can be accurately identified for the next calving process.
The 80km distant, gigantic Eqi Glacier can only be reached on a full day boat trip. He also calves actively. For larger demolition pieces he calls in the bay a true tsunami. The waves are swinging from one edge of the fjord to the other and back again. Suddenly rising fog makes the situation spooky. Only outlines of the ice colossi are recognizable, they emerge unexpectedly. The word of “Titanic Atmosphere” is making the rounds.
Greenland – an icy tingling, unforgettable adventure.
Wolf Leichsenring – Travel Journalist